Rancho Santa Fe Sports

Jay Paris: This is a league that features a soft ball and a soft heart

Boys will be boys, even big boys.

But after some 300 men play softball each Sunday at Stagecoach Park, it’s difficult finding the evidence.

“You will not see a single piece of litter on the field or in the dugout after the games,’’ said Darrell Atkin, whose been playing in the La Costa 35 Athletic Club league for 14 years.  “There is an awareness for us to be good citizens and really leave it better than when we found it.’’

Finding the good among the LC35AC is easy. These are good people doing good things and both will be on display Sunday.

This league has one eye on the ball and the other on helping others. If someone among their colleagues is suffering these players with limited range but endless compassion get busy.

By taking it easy.

The 23 teams take a hiatus this Sunday, but only to extend a hand. It’s the annual Swing With Your Heart co-ed tournament and here’s to everyone connecting.

“Anybody can sign up,’’ said Daryl Wasano, the LC35AC vice president. “You don’t have to be a member to play in our games that day.’’

If there’s a more important afternoon in the season, good luck finding it.

While league-play takes a respite, money will be raised for Dennis R., a longtime LC35AC participant, and Caroline Wrathall, a 4-year-old daughter of Reza Wrathall, another player.

Both are battling cancer.

Both have a legion of softballers at their side.

“There’s a real culture here of the teams being like family and you take care of your own,’’ Atkin said.

Which isn’t new for the LC35AC, which features over-35 and over-55 age-group divisions and is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The league’s popular poker bash has raised more than $100,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Carlsbad.

It’s set aside enough dough to fund annual $2,000 college scholarships for area graduates. The grants are named for John Strayer and John Mitchell; Strayer founded the softball league while Mitchell created the flag-football side.

And has the chatty Strayer ever missed a softball Sunday surrounded by those he knows best?

“I just love it out here,’’ he said. “Even on days when it rains and we don’t have games, I’ll come out here, sit by myself and think of all the good memories.’’

Strayer’s gift of gab means he’s seldom alone.

Dennis and Caroline, please know you’ll have plenty of friends this weekend, too.

Sunday’s entry fees go to the families, same for the money from the raffle items, which range from tickets to the Holiday Bowl and Padres games. Hawaiian vacations and golf at area resorts will also be bid on.

Don’t be surprised if the memorabilia features something from Carlsbad’s Fred Lynn, as the former major-leaguer played in the LC35AC for years.

But this is really about the recreational-leaguers giving it up for two people needing an assist.

“We’ll gather all the guys around and take any type of donation,’’ Wasano said. “The softball is one thing, but when there’s a need for somebody, everybody becomes so caring.’’

Don’t let all these tough, macho men fool you — they’ve got big hearts as well as big bats.

“More than anything in this league there’s a sense of community, a sense of belonging,’’ Atkin said.

Want to join in as well and why wouldn’t you?

Go to lc35ac.org and help these guys aiding two locals by donating something straight from the heart.

Knowing their goal, it’s impossible to swing and miss.


Contact Jay Paris at jparis8@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports